According to a poll this week, approximately 31 percent of surveyed Americans believe Roger Clemens is telling the truth about never taking performance-enhancing drugs.This is about the same percentage of Americans who believe in creationism, and still insist George Bush is doing a good job. And here’s my theory: These are all the same people, the true believers. If you cross-indexed these polls, you would likely find that Gallup and Quinnipiac just keep tapping into the same wacky group. …
Cassidy Turnbull (grade five) presented her uncle, Steve. She also showed photographs of monkeys and invited fairgoers to note the differences between her uncle and the monkeys. She tried to feed her uncle bananas, but he declined to eat them. Cassidy has conclusively shown that her uncle is no monkey.
Very cute. Too bad little Cassidy’s brain is now hobbled forever. (Well, maybe not. She’s only in fifth grade. She could get over it….)This is from here.. You will find a number of equally endearing examples of christian creationist science fair winners., such as “Women Were Designed For Homemaking” and “Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria”Too good to be true.
From whence the humble chicken? Gallus gallus is a domesticated chicken-like bird (thus, the name “chicken”) that originates in southeast Asia. Ever since Darwin we’ve known that the chicken originated in southeast Asia, although the exact details of which one or more of several possible jungle fowls is the primal form has been debated. The idea that more than one wild species contributed to the early chicken has been on the table for a long time, though perhaps not as long as the chickens themselves have been on the table. Continue reading
At this moment, there is a guy laid up in the hospital in Vegas with ricin poisoning. A stash of ricin has been found in his hotel room/apartment. His dog is dead (not sure why but probably due to lack of water and food) and a couple of other pets are either dead or not doing well (details are blurry).Details, sketchy as they are, here. So what is ricin? Continue reading
Science educator Roy Gould and Microsoft’s Curtis Wong give an astonishing sneak preview of Microsoft’s new WorldWide Telescope — a technology that combines feeds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and weaves them together holistically to build a comprehensive view of our universe. (Yes, it’s the technology that made Robert Scoble cry.)
(A microsoft project. So this is probably gonna cost ya, somehow) Continue reading
It turns out that there are TWO (not just the previously reported Barney Maddox) distinct threats to the delicate pro- vs. anti-science balance on the Texas School Board.I had earlier alerted you to trouble brewing in Texas, with Full Blown Creationist Nuthead Barney Maddox poised to take the swing seat on the Board of Education there. (PZ has also posted on this.)Now, Wired has a piece this developing story. Continue reading
… it was time to skip town.I’m going to Mayaland in a few weeks. I know nothing about Mayan archaeology, even though I attended graduate school at one of the world’s premier locals for the study of Mesoamerican archaeology. Since I was working towards a double PhD (in Biological Anthropology and Archaeology) I was allowed to “skip” one major subfield in each. Feeling ambitious, I skipped New World Archaeology (since I was already a New World archaeologist) and Anatomy (since I was really interested in Anatomy). That way I actually covered everything. But, my New World Archaeology stops at the Rio Grande. So it will be an interesting, educational visit!Anyway, there is an interesting story in the NYT about the Maya. Continue reading
As usual. Along with seabirds, owing to decisions made by the US government.
The US Government has auctioned leases to drill for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, putting at risk internationally important concentrations of seabirds, and a number of threatened bird species, including the Critically Endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostri.Audubon (BirdLife in the USA) says the Chukchi Sea is also home to one-tenth of the world’s remaining Polar Bears Ursus maritimus, and the only population of Bowhead Whales Balaena mysticetus not yet considered by the IUCN to be threatened.At least 15 species of birds on Audubon Alaska’s WatchList use marine and coastal habitats in the Chukchi Sea. The WatchList identifies declining and vulnerable species and populations of birds.Bird species at risk include the Vulnerable Steller’s Eider Polysticta stelleri and Near Threatened Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea. There are two major seabird colonies on the East (Alaskan) coast of the Chukchi Sea, supporting an estimated 850,000 breeding birds between them, mostly Thick-billed Uria lomvia and Common Guillemot (or Murre) U. aalge, and Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla. Kittlitz’s Murrelet breeds at both sites.
Historical records indicate that 130 years ago, the white-tailed jack rabbit was abundant in the Yellowstone vicinity. The last confirmed sighting was in 1991. What happened? This apparently remains a mystery, according to Rabbit Expert Joel Berger. Continue reading
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is caused by a coronavirus that is now believed to have originated in bats. In 2004, thousands of palm civets (a cat like carnivore) were killed off in China because it was believed that they were the main reservoir of this disease. Ooops. Continue reading
Or is it just that they are more often recognized. Or more sensationally reported. A recent study suggests that “emerging” diseases such as HIV, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus and Ebola are more common. Continue reading
Rare Birds Yearbook 2008: The World’s 189 Most Threatened Birds is, according to BirdLife International, proving to be a great success.
Last year’s Rare Birds Yearbook photo competition was a huge success with more than 1,000 images being submitted and the best were presented in Rare Birds Yearbook 2008, with each published photographer receiving a free copy of the book.The photo competition for Rare Birds Yearbook 2009 has just been launched and will run until 31 May 2008. This year sees a few exciting differences in the competition format.A new category, with a top prize of a travel-friendly Minox telescope, has been introduced for the best photo – or painting – of those species that did not feature with photos in the 2008 edition.There is a completely new contest for this year, a writer’s competition on the subject “My Encounter with a Critically Endangered Bird”. The first prize for this is a copy of the wonderful The Fifty Rarest Birds of the World. This leatherbound volume features stunning images painted by world-renowned wildlife artist Blake Twigden.An important objective of Rare Birds Yearbook is to create funds to save these Critically Endangered birds. That is why for every book sold Â£4 is donated to BirdLife International, to be used exclusively for the protection and conservation of these species.
Thousands of sick and dying bats are being found in caves in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. These are mostly Myotis lucifungus (the fairly common little brown bat) but at least three other species, including the endangered Myotis sodalis (Indiana bat) are affected as well.But why? Continue reading
… is up at Archaeoporn
A flourishing wetland on Kenya’s northern coast is under serious threat from plans to grow vast amounts of sugarcane, partly for biofuel production. Developers want to transform nearly 20,000 hectares of the spectacular Tana River Delta, into sugarcane plantations with other parts of the Delta earmarked for rice.”This development would be a national disaster, wreaking havoc with the area’s ecosystem and spelling the end for wildlife across much of the Delta”, said Paul Matiku, Executive Director of NatureKenya. “Large areas would become ecological deserts. The Delta is a wildlife refuge with cattle herders depending on it for centuries as well. There is no commitment to mitigation for the damage that will be done and no evidence that local incomes will be in any way improved. The sugarcane scheme cannot be allowed to go ahead.”The Delta, covering 130,000 hectares in total, is one of Kenya’s largest and most important freshwater wetlands. It is a vast patchwork of habitats including savannah, forests, beaches, lakes, mangrove swamps and the Tana River itself. Local people live by the seasons, adapting to the regular floods that keep the area fertile through the year.The sugarcane scheme, submitted by Mumias Sugar Company and Tana and Athi River Development Authority, proposes nearly 50,000 acres of irrigated sugarcane, together with sugar and ethanol plants. Local community livelihoods are likely to be severely impacted by any large-scale irrigation project.
Almost half of the world’s oceans have been ruined to some degree … often very severely … by human activity. You’ve heard a lot on the news and in the blogosphere about this lately. This increased interest is in part because of the recent production (Feb 15th Science) of a map of the ocean showing these impact.Here is the map:Click Here to View Larger Image Continue reading
More Life After DarwinParts 9 and 10 exist, and may be found on YouTube, but the versions that I’ve looked at are broken (no sound). Sorry!
Across Africa, and to some extent Asia, existing large parks and preserves are being combined into very large parks in order to serve several important functions. One is to make the parks so large that there will be interior areas that are impractical for most poaching or other encroachment. Another is to allow movement of migratory animals into new areas when their populations grow (presumably with some degree of natural culling cycling the process down now and then). Another is to allow a park to always contain a minimal range of a certain habitat even when secular or long term climate variation reduces that habitat. Yet another may be to make the park more attractive to tourism.With animals like tigers, who have relatively low population densities, it is essential to have large contiguous areas in order to have a viable population size both for genetic diversity and to get past periods of decimation by periodic disease or starvation episodes. Continue reading
This is a photograph of wild western lowland gorillas copulating in, sort of, the missionary position. This shot was taken in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. Continue reading
I’ve seen wind turbines from a distance, and they looked big, but I had no idea how big they were until I was as the State Fair (Minnesota) last year, and saw a single blade, mounted vertically like an enormous sculpture, extending gracefully so high in the sky that passing comets and asteroids were getting stuck on it. Continue reading
A DNA phylogeny based on over 200 species of lemurs and related species is now available. Continue reading
BirdLife International has welcomed the measures announced by New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton to reduce the number of seabirds killed in New Zealand’s fisheries. This follows an incident last year where a single longline vessel fishing in the Chatham Rise area of New Zealand was responsible for the deaths of 36 albatrosses including 12 Critically Endangered Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita.”We are delighted that New Zealand is bringing its fishing practice into line with internationally recognised best practice. The New Zealand Minister of Fisheries should be congratulated on his decision”, said John Croxall, Chairman of BirdLife’s Seabird Programme.